The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Book Tour - Bring HeLa to Your Town

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Lots of excitement and news about my book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (aka HeLa),
which hits stores February 2nd (after ten years in the works). It just got a starred review in Publishers Weekly and in Booklist, and was chosen as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers title for Spring 2010. Culture Dish is very excited about all of this. But the big news for this post is that I'm organizing a three-month-long book tour that will have me speaking nationwide at
universities, scientific organizations, bookstores, book groups, high schools, and
more. If you'd like me to speak about the book, about HeLa, the history and ethics of tissue culture, race and medicine, or any number of other related topics, see the Immortal Life's interactive book tour map below. Click
on your region to see when I'm scheduled to be in your area, and email me to bring The Immortal Life to your town.

The Immortal Book Tour is a grass-roots, author-funded tour on a scale that no sane publishing house would or could organize or fund. (For those not familiar with the publishing industry, see here for the New Yorker's humorous take on why this sort of thing is necessary). Crazy as it may be, I'm convinced it will be a fun and effective way to spread the word about this book -- and honestly, after ten years of working on it solo, I'm ready to go talk about it with everyone I can. I admit, I've imagined touring in one of these with cells painted all over it, but at this point, due to budget constraints, I may be touring in one of these. This tour will depend entirely on and funding from talks at universities and other venues, so locations able
to help cover expenses get priority (and many, many thanks), but I'm also looking to hear from bookstores and other organizations in towns I'll be visiting, where I'll gladly speak if I'm able to get myself there. Interactive book tour map and link for below the jump (and if you're interested in having me speak at a date after the tour, that works too: my schedule for summer and fall is wide open at this point):


* Purple dots = officially scheduled events

* Question marks = places along Skloot's route where she hopes people will help organize events, but where there are no official events yet. Anyone in those locations interested in helping to organize an event should email Skloot.

*A lack of question mark or purple dot does not mean Skloot won't visit. If your city isn't marked on the map and you'd like to help
organize an event, get in touch.

Note: The map may take a few seconds to load. If your region isn't showing up in the frame below, click the map and drag from side to side like a regular Google Map to find your location.

View The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Book Tour in a larger map

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â¦lies a-rottin' in the grave, but her cancer's marching on!!!

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 29 Oct 2009 #permalink

I wanted to share an idea on how readers can support Rebecca (and other writers like her) who have books from major publishing houses that increasingly do not provide support for book tours.

For such an academically-minded book that appeals to both scholars and the lay public interested in science, ethics, race, culture, and medicine, I've been working on funding Ms. Skloot's visit to PharmboyLand by soliciting support from various university lecture series programs. If you're at a medical or pharmacy school, hit up your cancer center or medical humanities program. If you are at a minority institution, you can hit up your programs that address health disparities or medical mistrust/racism issues. If you are in an arts & humanities department, you can hit up the folks who bring in speakers on Southern culture and history.

For you undergraduate, graduate and medical students, I know that you have student activities fund pools that would give you hundreds of bucks to a grand or two to bring in a speaker and that those funds sometimes go unspent because you really don't know who would be a good choice.

Well, choose Skloot. Rebecca is the kind of writer and speaker you want to bring to town. I know about 300 folks who would tell you the same after we all packed a lecture hall last year at ScienceOnline to hear her talk about the book and read excerpts. "Moving and engaging of both the heart and mind" is what my tasting notes read from last year.

Then, when Skloot is at your university, you'll bring her around to all the indy bookstores in your area that host readings and signings. Organize dinners with local media, bloggers, women in STEM groups, local authors. Get her on your local radio station. Help her make interview contacts for your local paper. People will thank you for bringing Rebecca's work to your community. I've done this kind of thing for others before and it's great fun, especially when you're promoting someone who you admire.

And to think that you don't even have to take ten years out of your life to write a book to have such a satisfying experience.!

I'm a life science grad student at Emory University in Atlanta. I see you have us down as a question mark... I'd be happy to try to help put something together. We have a couple of interdisciplinary organizations for grad students who might be interested in sponsoring a visit (along with the grad student council, the graduate division of biological and biomedical sciences, the med school, and others). Email me and I can ask around about funding (it would be nice to have a ballpark estimate of how much you need before I start...). (lemaria at emory dot edu)